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01.07.2019


Veillonella, a probiotic that boosts the metabolism of athletes

Veillonella, a probiotic that boosts the metabolism of athletes
In the poop of marathon runners, American researchers have found a bacterium that boosts the energy metabolism of athletes. In the intestines, the bacterium - microbiologists call it Veillonella - converts lactic acid into the super fuel propionate.

Veillonella
In previous studies, the researchers had found remarkably high concentrations of Veillonella in the stools of participants of the Boston Marathon. Especially right after the runners had run the marathon, the concentration of Veillonella parvula, Veillonella dispar and Veillonella atypica in their samples was sky high.

Microbiologists know Veillonella as a bacterium that converts lactic acid into propionate. Athletes make a lot of lactic acid, and propionate is a short chain fatty acid that the body uses as a kind of super fuel.


Veillonella, a probiotic that boosts the metabolism of athletes


Microbiologists know Veillonella as a bacterium that converts lactic acid into propionate. Athletes make a lot of lactic acid, and propionate is a short chain fatty acid that the body uses as a kind of super fuel.

Does Veillonella play a role in endurance performance? And if so - could supplementing with Veillonella enhance athletic performance? The researchers decided to answer these questions with an animal study.

Animal study
The researchers cultivated Veillonella atypica from marathon runners' samples, and then pumped it into the stomach of mice with a tube. The mice also received sodium bicarbonate to make their stomach contents less acidic so that the bacteria could survive better.

A control group received the yoghurt bacterium Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Six hours after the administration, the researchers got the mice to run in a treadmill until they literally could no longer. The figure below shows that the animals in the Veillonella atypica group lasted longer than the mice in the other group.


Veillonella, a probiotic that boosts the metabolism of athletes


In another animal study, the researchers pumped propionate via the rectum into the intestines of the mice, and then let the animals run. Another group of mice received an enema with an inactive substance [PBS]. And yes - propionate increased endurance.


Veillonella, a probiotic that boosts the metabolism of athletes


Conclusion
"The microbiome is such a powerful metabolic engine", says research leader Aleksandar Kostic in a press release. [sciencedaily.com June 24, 2019] "This is one of the first studies to directly show a strong example of symbiosis between microbes and their human host."

"It's very clear. It creates this positive feedback loop. The host is producing something that this particular microbe favors. Then in return, the microbe is creating something that benefits the host. This is a really important example of how the microbiome has evolved ways to become this symbiotic presence in the human host."

"Having increased exercise capacity is a strong predictor of overall health and protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and overall longevity. What we envision is a probiotic supplement that people can take that will increase their ability to do meaningful exercise and therefore protect them against chronic diseases including diabetes."

Fitbiomic
It could just be that the supplement to which Kostic refers will be available soon. Jonathan Scheiman, the lead author of the Nature Medicine study, is the CEO of the American biotech company Fitbiomics. [fitbiomics.com] Fitbiomics focuses on the development of microorganisms that should make athletes perform better.

Source:
Nat Med. 2019 Jun 24. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0485-4. [Epub ahead of print].

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